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Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

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Ely Cathedral from the south. 'The Ship of the Fens' dominates the surrounding flat landscape.
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The south western tower terminating the screen facade with distinctive Norman arcading.
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The east-end of the choir, restored in several phases over 20 years.
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Detail of the many-layered and deeply-cut mouldings of the east windows, richly ornamented with foliage carving and dog tooth. Restored and cleaned 1989 and 2006.
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Triple stiff leaf capital of the centre window, recarved in 1989.
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Double stiff leaf capital recarved in 1989; a vigorous style much loved by stone carvers, and uniquely English.
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Literally hundreds of stiff-leaf trefoil carvings such as this enrich the window hood moulding, many of which were renewed.
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The south side of the choir, restored 1995.
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Restored flying buttress pinnacle (1320's) with crockets and finials, 1995.
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Two new gargoyles on buttress string, to the left the site agent, to the right myself pre-beard with mallet and chisel.
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David Dimbleby featured our work in his series Buildings of Britain. Here I give him some guidance on chisel control.
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Masonry ornament of diaper and chevron, delineated by string-courses and corbel tables, with two restored beast heads, 1989.
Description of Project

Ely Cathedral is one of England’s greatest medieval building. Its fabric exhibits the major stylistic changes of the period up to the mid 14th century, starting with the spectacular facade and nave of the Norman period. The choir is related stylistically to the Angel Choir of Lincoln and is a fine example of the Early English period with its richly decorative Purbeck shafts and luxuriant foliage carving. A catastrophic collapse of the central tower in 1322 was triumphantly turned to advantage with the construction of the unique octagonal lantern to replace it, truly a wonder of medieval design and engineering. The last major building was the construction of the elegant and spacious freestanding Lady Chapel, with its highly accomplished Church carvings, cruelly and comprehensively mutilated by the iconoclasts of the 17th century. I have been involved in the restoration carving of all parts of the building on and off for over 20 years.

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Category: Stonecarving | Restoration | Romanesque and Gothic periods

Start Date: 1989
End Date: 2009
Material: Clipsham Stone
Contractor: Fairhaven and Woods
Name of Architect: Purcell Miller Tritton

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